Jack Krebs posted Entry 1904 on January 11, 2006 09:59 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1899

Over at the DI’s News Evolution News and Views blog, (where you can’t comment on anything), Jonathon Witt writes,

KU Darwinists Duck Intelligent Design Debate

The Lawrence Journal-World covers the story here.

=======
“Why won’t the Darwinists at KU debate philosopher and mathematician William Dembski, who will be speaking at a campus forum Jan. 28?

Leonard Krishtalka, director of KU’s Biodiversity Institute, said he was one scientist who declined an invitation to debate Dembski.

“There is nothing to debate,” Krishtalka said. “Intelligent design is religion thinly disguised as science and does not belong in the science classroom.”
=======

I wonder if Krishtalka could at least take the time to show that intelligent design is a religion-based argument. Let’s set the bar really low for his opening statement.

However, Witt fails to mention another part of the story:

Jack Krebs, president of Kansas Citizens for Science, a group critical of intelligent design, said he volunteered to speak at the Campus Crusade event. Krebs said he told organizers he would not defend evolution at the event, but rather take a broad perspective and discuss, for example, his view that evolution need not conflict with religion. But Krebs said he was turned down.

“I think it’s revealing that they want to ‘teach the controversy,’ but they only want to teach the controversy in the way that they see it,” Krebs said.

Brown said he wanted professors to speak at the event. Krebs is not a KU professor. He teaches math at Oskaloosa High School, where he’s also technology director.

I had a nice long talk with the program organizer Mark Brown, the head of Campus Crusade for Christ. I told him that I would not “defend evolution,” but rather that I would discuss some of the flaws in Dembski’s ideas. I also said I would discuss some of the theological issues with ID, pointing out that there were many Christians who accepted evolution, and that there were many critics of ID within the community of Christian theologians and scientists. His response to this was that it was true that some Christians “survived” (his word) accepting evolution, but it was clear that this topic bothered him. He said he would think about my offer to participate.

About a week later I called to see what was decided, and was told Dembski had decided to present alone.

Now I have a few comments on this. First, the newspaper article pointed out that if Dembski would have gotten a KU professor to participate, there somehow would have been some corporate funds to share the cost. (CCC has rented the Lied Center, a 2000 seat auditorium on the KU campus.) Therefore, perhaps they figured if there wasn’t any financial reason to share the stage, why bother.

On the other hand, I do believe that they really don’t want to talk in public about the things I wanted to talk about. They want the façade of credibility for ID by setting it against evolution – against some well-know biology professor like Krishtalka, but they don’t want (and I find this ironic) to actually discuss the issue of Christianity and evolution in front of a group of Christians. What are they afraid of here?

Here is the key point for me, as quoted in the article: “I think it’s revealing that they want to ‘teach the controversy,’ but they only want to teach the controversy in the way that they see it.” They want to define what the controversy is, and they want us to participate in validating their definition by engaging in defending evolution. However, the real controversies are cultural, religious and political, and they refuse to discuss those.

Later the article said,

John Calvert, director of the Intelligent Design Network, which played a key role in the Kansas State Board of Education’s recent adoption of science standards critical of evolution, said he wasn’t surprised KU scientists declined invitations.

“That’s consistent with the boycott of the Kansas hearings,” he said.

Mainstream scientists refused to participate in the board’s hearings, saying they weren’t really about science.

Calvert said scientists’ refusal to compete with intelligent design proponents in a public forum made it difficult to know who is right.

“You can’t know they’re better unless they engage in a competition,” he said.

I’m sure this puts a strain on Nicks’ brand-new shiny irony-meter. Who exactly is refusing to engage in a competition? Who has failed to produce any scientific results in the eight years or so since an “ID research program” was announced as a goal of the Wedge document. Who, in fact, has had the general precepts of ID creationism in its various guises in competition with the idea of evolution for about 150 years, and lost badly?

I offered to present my view of the ID controversy with Dembski. I will gladly offer Calvert the same – is he willing to discuss the controversies that I see about ID? I’m not afraid of competition, but we have to agree on what game we are playing.

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Comment #70362

Posted by harold on January 11, 2006 10:29 PM (e)

The Gospel According to “Cdesign Proponentists”

And Jesus Said Unto Them…

“Speak not my name openly. Deny me. Sneak and hide. Violate all that I have taught you. Break the Commandment against false witness. Lie and cheat, that ye may deny the reality of even that which men have observed with their very senses, and reasoned by the power of logic. Go unto the innocent, and deceive them. When ye are gathered in secret, wink and smirk, and speak my name, but only then. Forgive not, and be not humble. And when ye do all this, be like unto the publicans. Take taxes from men, and use ye their sheaves and their lambs against them, to fund the teaching of mistruth to their very children”.

Oh, wait. Jesus didn’t say any of that.

That’s just what Jonathon Witt, William Dembski, a million creationist internet trolls, and others of their ilk THINK he said. Or do they really…?

Comment #70369

Posted by Mike on January 11, 2006 10:45 PM (e)

I find it truly depressing that the majority of students who attend this lecture at KU will probably never hear about the dishonest tactics the organisers are using to spread their propaganda.

Comment #70372

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 11, 2006 10:48 PM (e)

About a week later I called to see what was decided, and was told Dembski had decided to present alone.

of course! can’t you see that they are just trying to make a talk to parallel Ken Miller’s?

I can envision sycophants on UD posting archived videos of demski’s talk now, claiming that it refutes everything Ken said in his, even tho it of course won’t.

*sigh*

Comment #70403

Posted by djlactin on January 12, 2006 12:01 AM (e)

Dembski talking at the “Lied Center”?! Too rich!

Comment #70415

Posted by Gerry L on January 12, 2006 12:34 AM (e)

Gee, this wouldn’t be the same William Dembski who was a no-show at last week’s “debate” with Ken Miller in Ohio? Did we ever get his excuse … er, reason for missing that opportunity?

Comment #70426

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 1:02 AM (e)

he was too busy preparing for this one?

Comment #70430

Posted by Albion on January 12, 2006 1:09 AM (e)

I wonder if Krishtalka could at least take the time to show that intelligent design is a religion-based argument.

Well, maybe the fact that the event is hosted by Campus Crusade for Christ and sponsored by local churches might give a clue.

Comment #70434

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 1:15 AM (e)

no no, even though it is hosted by a christian group, sponsored by christian groups, and features a seminary instructor, it is by NO MEANS religious in nature.

trust me, I am not a crook.

:p

Comment #70448

Posted by Bob O'H on January 12, 2006 1:38 AM (e)

Why not really test Nick’s irony meter: debate an athiest about the influence of evolution (or science more generally) on religious thought.

Teach the con… oh, you’ve just agreed to disagree.

Bob

Comment #70493

Posted by Inoculated Mind on January 12, 2006 4:55 AM (e)

The Campus Crusade for Christ at Davis, CA, invited the duo at Reasons to Believe (Ross and Rana) last February. I contacted the organizer Dave Lowe for information, and he said that he was having trouble finding scientists to be on a panel to “ask questions” of Ross and Rana. I got him talking and he said that he was only looking for “naturalists” to be on the panel, although they would settle on a theistic evolutionist if they “had to.”

The two professors, Dan Potter of plant bio and Andy Albrecht of physics did very well, framing the issue as: Where’s you’re data, where are your graphs, This is just religion. After the reparte’ and audience questions, the CCC folks were asking the professors why they didn’t play along and have a ‘debate.’ Later, I had them on my show, and they remarked that they were both discouraged from appearing by their colleagues because it makes the creationists seem legitimate.

And then the noticed, hey, we’re both atheists, isn’t that a coincidence? And I added, no, they chose atheists on purpose, its all part of the set-up. Put the atheist against the theist and play-up the Jesus versus science conflict.

What I find strange is when they are not trying to trash science in the name of religion, they are trying to say that the religious beliefs of 150-year old dead scientists mean that science supports religion. I think they should decide whether to be anti-elitist or elitist and stop saying what’s convenient.
Karl

Comment #70504

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 12, 2006 6:43 AM (e)

They want the façade of credibility for ID by setting it against evolution – against some well-know biology professor like Krishtalka, but they don’t want (and I find this ironic) to actually discuss the issue of Christianity and evolution in front of a group of Christians. What are they afraid of here?

They tried it on June 17th, 2001, and did not like the results.

Comment #70523

Posted by FL on January 12, 2006 7:40 AM (e)

“….they only want to teach the controversy in the way that they see it.”

Now t.h.e.r.e.’s a two-way street for you.

Krishtalka, presumably an expert on evolution given his position and experience, simply ducks out altogether.
No scientific reason given.

Krebs offers to steps in, but insists on a free “don’t have to defend evolution” card, as a prior condition of stepping in.

Meanwhile, Krebs’ stated intention is to “discuss some of the flaws in Dembski’s ideas”, so Dembski will NOT have an equal opportunity to enjoy a similarly free “don’t have to defend ID” card if he goes along with this gig.

Wow. I do not fault Jack Krebs for offering to step in to avoid any potential PR embarrassment caused by Mr. Krishtalka’s inability to debate/dialogue with Wm. Dembski, and I don’t belittle the issues that he is expressly concerned about,
but I surely do not blame Wm. Dembski one bit for refusing to play along with this ‘prior condition’ business. Mm-mmmm.

There should not be any problem with evolutionists being willing to defend evolution, without any prior conditions, in public debate at Kansas University of all places.

Shoot, send Paul Mirecki or Chancellor Hemenway in there if everybody’s got cold feet. They seem sorta motivated.

FL

FL

Comment #70527

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 12, 2006 7:52 AM (e)

Calvert said scientists’ refusal to compete with intelligent design proponents in a public forum made it difficult to know who is right.

“You can’t know they’re better unless they engage in a competition,” he said.

Once again, I point out that ID and evolution already HAD this “competition. In it, the Iders had the opportunity to present any and all witnnesses that they wanted to. They could present any data or evdience they wanted to. They could cross-examine all the “evolutionists” and point out any and all errors or distortions they thought they saw.

The name of that “competition” was Kitzmiller v Dover.

The IDers shot their entire load.

They lost.

They should get used to it and quit their damn whining.

Comment #70528

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 12, 2006 7:56 AM (e)

I surely do not blame Wm. Dembski one bit for refusing to play along with this ‘prior condition’ business. Mm-mmmm.

Um, why didn’t the Isaac Newton of Information Theory get on the witness stand and shred all those evilutionist atheists in Dover when he had the chance? When it really counted?

ID is dead. Time to pull the IV tube and find another scam.

Comment #70533

Posted by Daniel Morgan on January 12, 2006 8:09 AM (e)

I agree that the DI is in serious trouble, and their recent desparation shows it. I think, though, SOMEONE at KU ought to try to publish a column about this, or be willing to at least show up to do a presentation, if not debate Dembski. Gullible denizens of Kansas need more unanswered hollow support of ID about as much as I need a proverbial hole in my head. Just for the sake of helping dumb Kansans to see that science has answers to the DI’s rhetoric, I think someone needs to meet Dembski head-on (kudos to Jack Krebs for his attempt to do so).

Comment #70535

Posted by Russell on January 12, 2006 8:19 AM (e)

FL wrote:

There should not be any problem with evolutionists being willing to defend evolution, without any prior conditions, in public debate at [a Campus Crusade for Christ rally at] Kansas University of all places.

(you accidentally omitted the bracketed part)

Right. And there shouldn’t be any problem with Creation Scientists Intelligent Design theorists presenting their work in scientific journals and meetings. But somehow…

And why did the Isaac Newton of Information Theory back down from a face-off in Cleveland a week or so ago?

Comment #70548

Posted by Flint on January 12, 2006 9:17 AM (e)

What seems to be happening is that scientists are figuring out that you’re not going to win any “debates” where you are the visiting team, while both the referees and the audience are provided by the home team, and where the other side gets to frame the discussion and set the rules.

If the debate is held on scientific grounds, of course the creationists aren’t goign to show up. They have no science. If the debate is held on religious grounds, scientists have learned that the conclusions are foregone because that’s how religion works.

The only really neutral territory is the courts, and we notice that Dembski and Meyer (and others?) backed out there as well – and the courts consistently find that creationist arguments are purely religious and devoid of any science.

Like FL, I can’t blame Dembski for refusing to play along with any “prior conditions” which fail to award him a victory before the first pitch is thrown. After all, that’s the only way he can win.

Comment #70552

Posted by Karen on January 12, 2006 9:29 AM (e)

Teach the controversy! Since there is no controversy, create the illusion of a controversy! Great marketing, isn’t it?

Comment #70561

Posted by Moses on January 12, 2006 10:17 AM (e)

Comment #70523

Posted by FL on January 12, 2006 07:40 AM (e) (s)

Krishtalka, presumably an expert on evolution given his position and experience, simply ducks out altogether.
No scientific reason given.

Which is not the same as no reason given. And since it’s been pointed out that you’re “accidentally” omitting important information (though I call it lying), I’d like to know what reason he did give, if any, for refusing to get involved in a “bash the Darwinist” fest during the Campus Crusade for Christ “debate” y’all tried to schedule up?

Krebs offers to steps in, but insists on a free “don’t have to defend evolution” card, as a prior condition of stepping in.

Meanwhile, Krebs’ stated intention is to “discuss some of the flaws in Dembski’s ideas”, so Dembski will NOT have an equal opportunity to enjoy a similarly free “don’t have to defend ID” card if he goes along with this gig.

In case you didn’t get the memo: evolution has already won the debate. The debate *should* be on the merits of ID as a valid scientific theory with possible explanatory power in evolution.

Wow. I do not fault Jack Krebs for offering to step in to avoid any potential PR embarrassment caused by Mr. Krishtalka’s inability to debate/dialogue with Wm. Dembski, and I don’t belittle the issues that he is expressly concerned about, but I surely do not blame Wm. Dembski one bit for refusing to play along with this ‘prior condition’ business. Mm-mmmm.

Dembski will never debate without a tilted playing field where his flaws and lousy arguments can’t be shifted onto a different topic. That’s why there needs to be “no evolution” debate, but a debate solely on the merits of ID as a scientific theory with possible explanatory power. Otherwise, may as well have Ken Ham up there with his pictures of Cavemen Riding Dinosaurs.

There should not be any problem with evolutionists being willing to defend evolution, without any prior conditions, in public debate at Kansas University of all places.

There should be a problem when you fail to point out that it’s a biased religious revival consisting of an audience that, by and large, is incapable of changing it’s entrenched dogmatic, discredited and scientifically vacuous worldview. Deliberate omission of important, relevant information that could change the view/interpretation of an event is lying. In science, it can destroy your career. In religious apologetics it gets you promoted. A morality lesson that seems to escape those on religious side of the fence.

Comment #70563

Posted by Flint on January 12, 2006 10:24 AM (e)

With any luck, we’ll see FL adopt the time-tested creationist technique: When facts are uncongenial, lie. When the lie is exposed, repeat it.

Comment #70565

Posted by steve s on January 12, 2006 10:38 AM (e)

Posted by Russell on January 12, 2006 08:19 AM

Right. And there shouldn’t be any problem with Creation Scientists Intelligent Design theorists presenting their work in scientific journals and meetings. But somehow…

LOL.

Comment #70570

Posted by Raging Bee on January 12, 2006 10:52 AM (e)

I’m with Rev. Flank on this: we already had the creationist-evolutionist debate the creationists pretend to want; it was in a Federal court; both sides had ample opportunity to present their respective cases, with no unfair or unrealistic constraints that allowed one-liners but not detailed explanations of facts; both sides used their opportunity as best they could; and the creationists lost, fair and square. Mr. Krebs, you should point this out whenever you are challenged to debate the issue. “Debating” these propagandist liars is useless, and now we have a good reason not to do so.

The fact that “Cdesign Proponentists” are ignoring this, only proves they’re not interested in any real public debate that they can’t rig in advance. Now, it appears, their latest tactic is to “challenge” evolutionists to a “debate,” and when the evolutionists refuse due to the creationists’ idiotic and/or unfair preconditions, the creationists use the refusal as “proof” of their enemies’ “intolerance.”

Comment #70574

Posted by gregonomic on January 12, 2006 11:03 AM (e)

I agree with Lenny and Raging Bee: let the clowns perform at their own circus.

Comment #70586

Posted by Daniel Morgan on January 12, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

I do see the vexing issue. Going into a debate in which people’s minds will be “made up”, when said people are 95% scientifically illiterate and cannot distinguish falsehoods and canards is indeed pointless. In the end, said people will rely on who they trust more, or on who seemed to have a difficult time responding, and so the debate becomes an oration show.

At the same time, I guess I just get pissed constantly hearing things like, “evolutionists won’t debate ID advocates (IDiots)”

It seems like a catch-22

Comment #70606

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 12, 2006 12:27 PM (e)

I thought Dover was the big Evolution Versus Intelligent Design debate organized and hosted by a disinterested (neutral) 3rd party, no? And the debate judge and audience was neutral as well, no? I even heard that debate was held in a federal building and NOT a college or church and I am under the impression that this debate was actually sponsored by the federal government.

I heard the evolutionists won that Dover debate pretty soundly, no? Additionally I heard the Discovery Institute and the theologian William Dembski were going to show up at that debate but got cold feet and did a no-show. They chickened out.

And I hear a new debate is being planned right this very moment in a tiny hick town in California. My understanding is that this debate is also going to be sponsored by a neutral 3rd party.

I hear this California debate already has a social studies teacher prepared to debate the Intelligent Design side. Some people might scoff at the thought of a simple social studies teacher defending a “science” like Intelligent Design but her biology training and biology education is identical to William Dembski’s biology training and education. Also, she has published the same amount of peer reviewed Intelligent Design papers in legitimate biology/evolution journals as Michael “it could be a space alien or time traveler” Behe. She seems quite qualified to me to defend Intelligent Design to me.

I wonder if the theologian and Sunday school teacher at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary William Dembski and the Discovery Institute will chicken out of this California debate as well.

Personally I think these neutral 3rd party debates like Dover and California are the most effective and the least controversial.

I think our approach to these rigged debate offers ought to be a cheerful -

Thanks for the offer, we’ll see you in court where the debate results actually mean something.

Comment #70616

Posted by Julie on January 12, 2006 1:01 PM (e)

Jack Krebs quoted John Calvert:

“You can’t know they’re better unless they engage in a competition,” he said.

This, of course, is a spectacular piece of disinformation in and of itself. (IMO it’s one of the great lies of our culture anyway, but that’s a topic of another pet rant of mine that has nothing to do with either evolution or religion.)

Also …

CCC has rented the Lied Center ….

Perfectly appropriate, even if unintentional!

Comment #70627

Posted by Ed Darrell on January 12, 2006 1:25 PM (e)

Already had the debate? Yes, several times. Don’t forget the great Arkansas debate in 1967 (Epperson v. Arkansas), the great Arkansas debate of 1981 (McLean v. Arkansas), the debate in Louisiana in 1986 and 1987 (Edwards v. Aguillard), and most lately, in a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, courtroom.

That old Pennsylvanian, Ben Franklin, observed that truth wins in a fair fight. That’s why creationists don’t want a fair fight.

Comment #70628

Posted by rdog29 on January 12, 2006 1:27 PM (e)

Hey FL -

As Lenny and others have pointed out, there already has been a debate in a court of law. There was no flash and glitz, no soaring rhetoric, no theater. Just the facts - the best that either side could muster.

And guess what? ID got bitch-slapped. Becuase when you strip away the theater and the spin, ID has nothing to offer.

In short, ID and Evolution went head-to-head in Dover based SOLELY on the SCIENTIFIC MERITS of each - and ID got its ass kicked.

That should be the end of the story. But in true rabid Fundie fashion, the IDiots don’t let pesky little facts get in the way of a good PR campaign.

Comment #70638

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 12, 2006 1:43 PM (e)

Golly, maybe FL has a point. Maybe science supporters are afraid of open debate. I think we should all head over to Dembski/DaveScot’s blog to discuss this.

Comment #70639

Posted by Flint on January 12, 2006 1:59 PM (e)

I seriously doubt that even Dembski thinks ID is science. It was created as a vehicle to trick the government into preaching creationism. Claims about scientific merit, whatever their effect in beguiling those who desperately want to believe it, are really not intended to *mean* that it has such merit.

The goal is to get creationism preached everywhere, but especially in public agencies like schools, courts, and legislatures. The merits of any strategy are measured against this goal. Not against any other.

So the creationists are correct, in relation to their goals, to push ID so long as it seems to have any remaining legs. And judging by the number of different school boards still willing to try to pull a Dover, it has plenty of legs.

It’s possible that losing these court cases, even as spectacularly as Dover, isn’t so important in relation to the goal as to lend the impression of community support to creationist schoolteachers.

After all, Judge Jones doesn’t teach 9th grade biology. Those who do include creationists who teach creationism regardless of what any court says anywhere, and those non-creationists who don’t teach evolution at all to avoid hassles.

And it appears that LOTS of creationists are teaching in high schools. When was the last time anyone heard of such a teacher being fired or reprimanded for doing so, especially by an administration sympathetic to their faith? Does the Dover decision change ANYTHING, really? Will any creationist teacher keep God’s Word a secret just because some judge somewhere else fell into the error of atheism?

Comment #70656

Posted by Greg H on January 12, 2006 2:53 PM (e)

On a related topic - related, that is by the man at the heart of them both, I happened to pop into Dembski’s blog today (http://www.uncommondescent.com) and his top post was one from 12:09 pm:

[From an engineer friend of mine–what’s the evolutionary explanation for the synthesis of perfect magnetite crystals in bacteria?] I’m in Houston at a custom short course (all week long) in nanotechnology for [snip] given by a group of profs at Rice Univ. It’s been a very intensive course, but very informative. One interesting thing that came up was the description of a bacteria that is able to synthesize an approximately linear array of the most perfect crystals of magnetite (better than any that experts have been able to do thus far) internally, which it uses to align itself with the earth’s magnetic field so that it can navigate with respect to the oxygen gradient in the mud in which it lives. See Blakemore and Frankel, “Magnetic Navigation in Bacteria” Scientific American, 245(6), pp. 58-65, 1981. If this ain’t design, I haven’t seen it.

A couple of observations from someone with the same specialization in biology as Dembski himself. First of all, it can be surmised that the ability to navigate along the oxygen gradient has one of two results:
A) It enables the organism to survive better; or
B) It doesn’t matter if it can or not, it’s just an interesting feature.

If A is the case, then evolution predicts that the organism in question will, in fact, develop a way of doing this. If B, then it really doesn’t matter that it can, it’s just a slightly unusual fact in a world of slightly unusual facts. Neither of these cases speaks to any need for a designer.

Additionally, the fact that the array is “approximately linear” speaks volumes, to me at least, about the lack of design. I mean, the last time I designed a straight line, it was straight. Not nearly straight, not “approximately linear”, not almost plumb and level. It was straightedge, pencil up the ruler, straight. Now, being as I am only a mere mortal, I would assume that anyone with the skillset to design an entire universe at least has the ability to make a stright line. The fact that the organism can do so better than a human in lab can means nothing. A lack of evidence is not evidence, and all that.

It’s also somewhat odd to me, that they picked one (fairly early) article from Blakemore and Frankel to illustrate when, according to the list at http://www.calpoly.edu/~rfrankel/mtbrbf.html Frankel alone has contributed to not less than 90 papers on the subject, 22 of them in the last five years. So why not a more recent article?

A more salient article on the topic might have been, perhaps:
E. F. DeLong, R. B. Frankel, D. A. Bazylinski, Multiple Evolutionary Origins of Magnetotaxis in Bacteria. Science 259, 803-806 (1993).

or perhaps:
D. A. Bazylinski, R. B. Frankel, B. R. Heywood, S. Mann, J. W. King, P. L. Donaghay, A. K. Hanson, Controlled Biomineralization of Magnetite (Fe3O4) and Greigite (Fe3S4) in a Magnetotactic Bacterium. Applied Environ. Microbiol. 61, 3232-3239 (1995).

Which might have at least given Dembski the clue that magnetite isn’t the only mineral these bateria are producing.

Now, recall at the beginning, I said I was a layman. I constructed this argument in much the same way I imagine Demski constructs his - glance at a list of references and see which ones look like they might make my argument without actually doing any deeper research. The difference? I’m telling you I did that.

Comment #70663

Posted by PenetratingShaftOfTruthAndSemen on January 12, 2006 3:09 PM (e)

HAHA, head over to Dembski/DaveScot’s blog??? I frequent that site just for laughs. Talk about cyberbullying—DaveScot runs that blog now as if he were designated Dictator of the Internet. In addition, I thought Dembski was too busy to participate in blogging, yet he is all over the blog even more so than before he put it on “mothballs”. I’m sorry, but the joke is getting old. Give it up, IDiots.

Comment #70674

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 12, 2006 3:40 PM (e)

Thanks Greg H for that info.

Comment #70675

Posted by Lamuella on January 12, 2006 3:43 PM (e)

has anyone else noticed that as well as being clueless about biology, Dembski is clueless about copyright law?

Thus far I’ve seen him steal content from Despair, PvP and Robb Armstrong.

Comment #70678

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 3:57 PM (e)

The only really neutral territory is the courts, and we notice that Dembski and Meyer (and others?) backed out there as well — and the courts consistently find that creationist arguments are purely religious and devoid of any science.

let’s be clear here, Dembski didn’t back out on his own. Technically, he simply wasn’t called by the defense as a rebuttal witness, because the person he was supposed to be a direct rebuttal of also didn’t testify.

er, at least in the Dover case. It was a bit more muddy in Cobb.

however, in both cases it is also just as clear that the defense STILL could have called ‘ol “Isaac” as an expert witness, just like Behe, and didn’t, even though his NFL crap is still touted by True Believers™ as being a significant cornerstone of the ID mantra.

that is telling, in and of itself.

another telling thing is that Ken Miller, while well experienced with and trained in evolutionary biology, is not, himself, considered an evolutionary biologist.

Yet, his testimony shredded the IDiots. Imagine if we had actually bothered to put some of the more well published evolutionary biologists, like John Endler for example, on the stand.

people wonder why we let folks like Lalalarry Fafarman hang about… It’s because his readily apparent willfull ignorance of the facts presented to him represents the ID position perfectly.

He is a living testimony to the psychological disfunction these folks seem to share, and that politicians are more than willing to take advantage of.

Comment #70679

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 4:00 PM (e)

HAHA, head over to Dembski/DaveScot’s blog???

yup. 7 banned and counting over the last 4 days, IIRC.

Comment #70683

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 4:09 PM (e)

It was created as a vehicle to trick the government into preaching creationism

hmm. i have a more top-down theory:

ID was created as an organizing principle by those who wanted to use it as a platform to control and organize the grassroots political group commonly known as “the religious right”.

think about it; it works perfectly as an organizing structure to rile up and mobilize this grassroots group in order to apply pressure on any number of neocon support issues:

-reducing the power of the judicial branch
-getting the “vote” out
-and in general, encouraging lack of critical thinking and basic education, which produces yet more of the “religious right”.

I personally believe that there is more evidence to support the DI as a political, rather than a religious tool.

hmm.

perhaps it would be worthwhile exploring the evidence available to derive a reasonable working hypothesis of the actual function of ID, and the DI?

I’m game.

I’ll start a topic thread over at ATBC either later today or early tommorrow, when i can coalesce and elucidate better my thoughts and proposed evidence on the matter.

Comment #70686

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 12, 2006 4:20 PM (e)

let’s be clear here, Dembski didn’t back out on his own. Technically, he simply wasn’t called by the defense as a rebuttal witness, because the person he was supposed to be a direct rebuttal of also didn’t testify.

I think you’ve got that backwards. Jeffrey Shallit was signed up to give rebuttal testimony to Dembski. When Dembski pulled out in the DI/TMLC breakup, the TMLC requested that Shallit’s rebuttal testimony be cancelled.

Comment #70693

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 4:35 PM (e)

ah, i had that confused then, I thought that’s what happened at Cobb (dembksi was pulled because of a lawyer dispute over seperate representation, IIRC).

thanks for the correction.

do you recall where exactly the reasons for dembski’s pullout were documented? I’ve lost track at this point (er, obviously :) )

Comment #70695

Posted by Jack Krebs on January 12, 2006 4:37 PM (e)

BB is right. Dembski backed out because they wouldn’t let him have his own lawyer. Thereforee Shallit wasn’t necessary.

That is what I think happened.

Comment #70706

Posted by Karen on January 12, 2006 4:55 PM (e)

In April 2002 I attended an ID vs Evolution debate at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. It featured Dr Ken Miller and Dr Robert Pennock (evolution) vs Dr. Michael Behe and Dr Bill Dembski (ID), and was moderated by Eugenie Scott of the NCSE. It was a wonderful evening seeing all the biggies duking it out.

After seeing Dembski in action, I don’t think he could hold his own in the men’s room. Ken Miller was polite (as usual) when he went against Dembski, but Dr. Pennock basically chewed him up and spit him out. (No wonder the ID guys prefer to go directly to schoolboys and schoolgirls.) I actually felt sorry for Dembski– at times he was stammering and almost speechless under Pennock’s grilling. Still, I realize that the ID guys brought this on themselves.

You can read the debate transcript here.

Comment #70722

Posted by Jason on January 12, 2006 5:21 PM (e)

Find a passage anywhere in Dembski’s Cambridge University Press monograph, The Design Inference, or in his follow-up academic book on the subject, No Free Lunch, that bases one of its arguments on a religious premise, that is, appeals to religious authority. Krishtalka can also peruse Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box, and Stephen Meyer’s peer-reviewed essay arguing that intelligent design best explains the Cambrian explosion.

What about the title of one of Demski’s books: Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology? That wouldn’t have anything to do with religion, would it? Oh, sorry, just theology, not religion…

ID best explains the Cabrian “Explosion”? Since when, and in what way?

Comment #70737

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 12, 2006 5:51 PM (e)

Karen is there a video of that debate anywhere?

Comment #70749

Posted by Moses on January 12, 2006 6:03 PM (e)

Find a passage anywhere in Dembski’s Cambridge University Press monograph, The Design Inference, or in his follow-up academic book on the subject, No Free Lunch, that bases one of its arguments on a religious premise, that is, appeals to religious authority. Krishtalka can also peruse Michael Behe’s book, Darwin’s Black Box, and Stephen Meyer’s peer-reviewed essay arguing that intelligent design best explains the Cambrian explosion.

1. Dembski has blabbered on in multiple instances that his whole theory is a St. John’s Logos Theory dressed up in a mathematical argument. The word Logos is the term by which Christian theology in the Greek language designates the Word of God, or Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. In other words, it is a religious text.

2. Behe is less obvious than Dembski as he generally doesn’t blatantly expose his religious sentiments behind his theory. Still, we have him in Kitzmiller showing us all his “kit” and his begging the question circular logic of (not quite so) irreducible complexity.

3. Myer’s article was withdrawn by the publisher and the editor was fired as it was felt by the publisher’s over-sight committee the peer-review process was compromised, possibly by-passed by using cherry-picked “peer reviewers” who would give the fatally flawed paper a pass. And, just to make it funnier, it was an obscure, 4th rate journal instead of a quality journal with a strong editorial board.

Comment #70751

Posted by Russell on January 12, 2006 6:12 PM (e)

3. M[e]yer’s article was withdrawn by the publisher and the editor was fired as it was felt by the publisher’s over-sight committee the peer-review process was compromised, possibly by-passed by using cherry-picked “peer reviewers” who would give the fatally flawed paper a pass. And, just to make it funnier, it was an obscure, 4th rate journal instead of a quality journal with a strong editorial board.

I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Sternberg was not “fired” - his term in that position was due to expire anyway. And while the society that publishes the journal passed some sort of official statement saying the article was inappropriate, and shouldn’t have been published, I’m not sure that’s the same as “withdrawn”.

Comment #70757

Posted by Karen on January 12, 2006 6:25 PM (e)

Karen is there a video of that debate anywhere?

I don’t think so, unfortunately, but I will try to find out for sure. With just the transcript you do miss out on a lot of the fun from this boisterous evening. Be sure to read the transcript, though– it’s quite telling.

Comment #70758

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on January 12, 2006 6:31 PM (e)

I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Sternberg was not “fired” - his term in that position was due to expire anyway. And while the society that publishes the journal passed some sort of official statement saying the article was inappropriate, and shouldn’t have been published, I’m not sure that’s the same as “withdrawn”.

That is correct, the paper was not withdrawn. I think the appropriate term, if the nanny filters will allow me to say so, is that the journal’s board “shat upon” the paper.

Comment #70766

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 12, 2006 6:41 PM (e)

Karen, I read the transcripts and they are indeed revealing. Thanks again, I had no idea it existed. But a video sure would be cool if one can be found. You would think the NCSE would have made a video a priority.

And everytime I go to the NCSE web site I blow a fuse so I can’t hang out there for very long :-)

Anyhow, let me know if you find a video.

Chris

Comment #70773

Posted by Mr Christopher on January 12, 2006 6:58 PM (e)

Speaking of Debates with the Discovery Institute’s Chief Theologian, Wilhelm Dembski…

Intelligent Design forum features Dembski & FSU prof

Jan 12, 2006
By Staff
Baptist Press
MARIETTA, Ga. (BP)–An upcoming dialogue between a key Intelligent Design proponent and a Darwinian evolutionist from Florida State University reflects the fact that, “Our commitment to truth leads us to believe that we have nothing to fear from public discussion of important topics,” said Robert Stewart, associate professor of philosophy and theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

The 7 p.m. Feb. 3 dialogue between ID proponent William Dembski and evolutionist Michael Ruse is the featured event of NOBTS’ two-day Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, to be held at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.

Dembski, a mathematician and philosopher, is the Carl F. H. Henry Professor of Theology and Science at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture; and author of numerous books on Intelligent Design, including “No Free Lunch” and “The Design Revolution.”

Ruse is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and professor of zoology at Florida State and author of “Taking Darwin Seriously” and “Can a Darwinian be a Christian?” Ruse also is the founder and editor of the journal Biology & Philosophy and editor of the “Cambridge University Press Series in the Philosophy of Biology.”

Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost and professor of philosophy, described Dembski as “the foremost advocate and architect of the Intelligent Design movement in the United States” whose writings “have given intellectual credibility to the ID perspective within the scholarly community.”

Intelligent Design studies patterns in nature and, similar to forensic science or archaeology, uses empirical evidence to detect whether the pattern was set in place by design or by undirected natural processes.

Reliance on empirical evidence and testability distinguishes Intelligent Design from creationism and previous design arguments. Intelligent Design examines scientific data on its own merits, without presupposing either evolution or design.

“The Intelligent Design movement provides an intellectual framework which makes the affirmation of a created universe not only believable by someone educated in the perspective of modern science, but intellectually credible,” Lemke said.

Intelligent Design, Dembski said, is establishing a proving ground in which faith and science co-exist with integrity.

“Advances in molecular biology make Darwin’s explanation much harder to accept,” he said. “There are patterns in nature that can only be explained by intelligence.”

Dembski said that, although a century of biological research has failed to define the evolutionary pathways of building highly complex organisms from simple ones, science education presents no alternatives to evolutionary theory.

“Many Christian youth go off to college and then struggle with their faith. The apologetic value of ID is in defeating scientific materialism, the view that everything can be reduced to matter and explained by natural processes,” Dembski said.

On Feb. 4, Christian apologetic authors William Lane Craig and Francis Beckwith also will address Intelligent Design at the Greer-Heard forum.

Craig, who will speak at 11 a.m., is research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at LaMirada, Calif. His topic will be “Evolutionary Theory and Naturalism.”

Beckwith, who will speak at 2:30 p.m., is the associate director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University and the current vice president of the Evangelical Theological Society. His topic will be “Intelligent Design, Public Education, and the First Amendment.”

“The non-Christian world needs to see educated, articulate believers who can dialogue on these issues and exhibit respect and courtesy to those with whom they disagree,” Stewart said.

“Intelligent Design is not your father’s ‘old Earth creation science,’” he said “Even many who do not agree with its thesis admit as much. For this reason, it is likely the most significant challenge to the dominant Darwinian paradigm since Charles Darwin penned his ‘Origin of Species.’”

Dembski also is scheduled to speak at the 10 a.m. Jan. 24 spring convocation at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.

“His visit should help to clarify the notion that Intelligent Design really is the intelligent position on this issue,” said Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts.

Dembski also will speak at an apologetics conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 18-22.
–30–
For more information on New Orleans Seminary’s Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum, see www.greer-heard.com or contact Johnson Ferry Baptist Church at www.jfbc.org.

Also…

Dembski also will speak at an apologetics conference at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Sept. 18-22

I’ll be there…I’ll tape it!

.

Comment #70806

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 12, 2006 8:01 PM (e)

You can read the debate transcript here.

I was there, too, and got to ask a question.

AMNH Debate Transcript wrote:

AM2:
[inaudible]

WD:
Well, let me answer you in two parts. One, if you throw enough money at researchers, you’ll be getting research, right. So I think, uh, I think the, you know, the, the research you’re citing, I don’t mean to dismiss it, I think there’s a lot of good stuff being done, but it’s certainly, the moneys, the research funds are the evolutionary side, we don’t have very much funding, we’re not getting funding from NSF and NIH, so it’s a mainly, mainly private at this point. And I would say yes, we have our work cut out for us. In 1997 we met at a conference, but there was a conference later that year that which was a private gathering, titled “A Consultation on Intelligent Design”, Where the idea was to try to jump start this as a research program. We weren’t there at the time. So, you know, I, I agree, we’ve got our work cut out for us, but, uh, we’re making some slow, slow progress. You know I think uh, we’re still at the point, I mean, I think that my, my work in No Free Lunch and um, Design Inference was trying to lay some theoretical foundations. And, Uh, you know. But I, I do see, there’s, there’s some good work being done, and, I can, I can list some for you. We are getting some stuff into the peer reviewed literature, it’s not, it’s not a whole lot, you know. So yeah, we’ve got our work cut out.

Basically, I said that I had been at the 1997 “Naturalism, Theism, and the Scientific Enterprise” conference where the ID advocates said that they didn’t have a scientific hypothesis of ID and a means of testing it, but that they were working on it. I asked Dembski what progress ID had made in the intervening years. And the text above is what the response was.

Comment #70826

Posted by Moses on January 12, 2006 8:20 PM (e)

Comment #70751

Posted by Russell on January 12, 2006 06:12 PM (e) (s)

I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Sternberg was not “fired” - his term in that position was due to expire anyway. And while the society that publishes the journal passed some sort of official statement saying the article was inappropriate, and shouldn’t have been published, I’m not sure that’s the same as “withdrawn”.

They issued this statement and removed the paper from their on-line journal and refused to allow comments and rebuttals. There may be a technical meaning to “withdrawn” in the scientific community that I, as a layman, may not grasp the distinction of. But that’s about as “withdrawn” as you can get in the real world, save smashing the computers and burning the journals, as you can get… :)

STATEMENT FROM THE COUNCIL OF THE BIOLOGICAL
SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON

The paper by Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” in vol. 117, no. 2, pp. 213-239 of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, was published at the discretion of the former editor, Richard v. Sternberg. Contrary to typical editorial practices, the paper was published without review by any associate editor; Sternberg handled the entire review process. The Council, which includes officers, elected councilors, and past presidents, and the associate editors would have deemed the paper inappropriate for the pages of the Proceedings because the subject matter represents such a significant departure from the nearly purely systematic content for which this journal has been known throughout its 122-year history. For the same reason, the journal will not publish a rebuttal to the thesis of the paper, the superiority of intelligent design (ID) over evolution as an explanation of the emergence of Cambrian body-plan diversity. The Council endorses a resolution on ID published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2002/1106id2.shtml), which observes that there is no credible scientific evidence supporting ID as a testable hypothesis to explain the origin of organic diversity. Accordingly, the Meyer paper does not meet the scientific standards of the Proceedings.

We have reviewed and revised editorial policies to ensure that the goals of the Society, as reflected in its journal, are clearly understood by all. Through a web presence (http://www.biolsocwash.org) and improvements in the journal, the Society hopes not only to continue but to increase its service to the world community of systematic biologists.

As for being fired, you can have that one, but I believe he was more “fired” than “just moved on” I get from my practical business-world experience over the situation. i.e., leaving early after screwing the pooch. Like Nixon resigning in the face of impeachment. Or some people I’ve known who’ve “left at lunch” never to return…

Better to “quit” than be “fired.” Looks better on your resume.

Comment #70829

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 8:24 PM (e)

gees, Wes!

that response from WD looked like he had taken GW’s course on how to answer legitimate questions!

and maybe even went back for seconds!

Comment #70830

Posted by Sir_Toejam on January 12, 2006 8:27 PM (e)

How did you manage not to pop a gasket even listening to that response?

makes my head hurt just reading it.

my respect for has just gone up a notch.

I would NOT have been able to resist doing a porky-pig imatation when WD was finished with that.

Comment #70832

Posted by Karen on January 12, 2006 8:33 PM (e)

I was there, too, and got to ask a question.

Well, I would have enjoyed meeting you. Aren’t you dumbfounded that Dembski would have the nerve to speak in public again after that performance? I can only imagine what a good lawyer would have done to him at the Dover trial.

Anyway, the ID guys remind me of the last verse of Amazing Grace:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ll be no closer to getting research done,
Then when we first begun!

Comment #70833

Posted by ben on January 12, 2006 8:35 PM (e)

One, if you throw enough money at researchers, you’ll be getting research, right. So I think, uh, I think the, you know, the, the research you’re citing, I don’t mean to dismiss it, I think there’s a lot of good stuff being done, but it’s certainly, the moneys, the research funds are the evolutionary side, we don’t have very much funding, we’re not getting funding from NSF and NIH

Um, er, uh, um, eh, sputter, squeak, gag.

But if ID is the correct theory and evolution is incorrect, you would think the results of the research, whether it was from the “evolutionary side” or, presumably, the “intelligent design side,” wouldn’t the results of the research be consistent with ID and not with evolution, regardless of which “side” (whatever the hell that really means) it came from? Are we talking about science, Bill, or are we talking about funding for your religious crusade?

Comment #70922

Posted by Bob O'H on January 13, 2006 1:13 AM (e)

Moses wrote:

(on Sternberg)
As for being fired, you can have that one, but I believe he was more “fired” than “just moved on” I get from my practical business-world experience over the situation. i.e., leaving early after screwing the pooch. Like Nixon resigning in the face of impeachment. Or some people I’ve known who’ve “left at lunch” never to return…

Better to “quit” than be “fired.” Looks better on your resume.

Sternberg had already announced his decision to quit before the Meyer paper was submitted, so he wasn’t pushed. But I doubt anyone tried to stop him leaving.

Apropos of absolutely nothing relevant, the accordian was patented on this day in 1829.

Bob

Comment #70938

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 13, 2006 1:55 AM (e)

Posted by Karen on January 12, 2006 08:33 PM (e) (s)

Anyway, the ID guys remind me of the last verse of Amazing Grace:

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ll be no closer to getting research done,
Then when we first begun!

Good one Karen.
I like it.

Comment #70951

Posted by Eugene Lai on January 13, 2006 3:39 AM (e)

ben wrote:

But if ID is the correct theory and evolution is incorrect, you would think the results of the research, whether it was from the “evolutionary side” or, presumably, the “intelligent design side,” wouldn’t the results of the research be consistent with ID and not with evolution, regardless of which “side” (whatever the hell that really means) it came from?

IDists always claim that they are looking at the same evidence as evolutionists, so that is not really a problem. Their claim is evolution can’t explain everything.

By the way, the IDists biggest worry should not be that evolution is fact (and theory), but that one day science may find irrefutable proof that earthy life is indeed designed by space aliens. The IDists would then need to revert back to scientific creationism.

Comment #70968

Posted by Moses on January 13, 2006 6:55 AM (e)

Comment #70922

Posted by Bob O’H on January 13, 2006 01:13 AM (e) (s)

Sternberg had already announced his decision to quit before the Meyer paper was submitted, so he wasn’t pushed. But I doubt anyone tried to stop him leaving.

Ah. Didn’t know that part from my readings about the flap. Additional information puts my projection in the red.

Comment #72014

Posted by fnxtr on January 15, 2006 6:16 AM (e)

I just read the NCSE “debate”.
Demski and Behe make about as much sense as Mary Baker Eddy.

Comment #72146

Posted by Andrew McClure on January 15, 2006 1:09 PM (e)

I just read the NCSE “debate”.
Demski and Behe make about as much sense as Mary Baker Eddy.

Hey, at least Mary Baker Eddy made testable, falsifiable predictions

Comment #72285

Posted by Michael Rathbun, FCD, FARW on January 15, 2006 8:05 PM (e)

In the transcript, Dembski states:

WD:
Well, your, your obviously focusing on the explanatory filter[…]

When an archaeologist finds an arrowhead, um, is this just a random chunk of rock, is it perhaps a chunk of rock that would emerge out of some sort of, uh, repeated process where the thing would…chunks like that, of that form, would keep occurring. Where is, is there an intention is there an intelligence behind that. That’s how we taxo-…[crosstalk] that’s how we, [crosstalk] that’s how we taxonomize it.

Well now, that’s fascinating. So when we encounter some classes of possible artifact, we don’t actually look for some sort of difficult-to-pin-down “evidence of design”, we look for the much more tractable “evidence of fabrication”. That is, we don’t ask whether it was “designed”, we seek to determine whether it was “built”.

And in the cases of many artifacts of life, we can state… whoa! Do bees design honeycombs? They are extraordinarily well suited to a set of purposes. We know that the bees build them, because whe have observed them doing so.

Hmm…

Comment #72419

Posted by Wesley R. Elsberry on January 16, 2006 9:37 AM (e)

Karen wrote:

I can only imagine what a good lawyer would have done to him at the Dover trial.

Steve Harvey was all set to take Dembski’s deposition. The last word from our side to theirs before Dembski was withdrawn from the case was that Jeff Shallit and I would also be in attendance at the deposition. Coincidence? Perhaps.

I couldn’t stick around at the AMNH debate. I was due in Silver Spring, MD the next morning for a workshop on sonar and marine mammal mortality. I would have liked to have been able to socialize more, but my schedule was pretty tight.

Comment #72448

Posted by Randy on January 16, 2006 12:45 PM (e)

Flint wrote:

If the debate is held on religious grounds, scientists have learned that the conclusions are foregone because that’s how religion works.

I sympathize with what you’re saying but I disagree on the theological debate. I wish there would be a real theological debate with IDiots. I don’t know how one can escape classing fundamentalists as idolaters and heretics. No matter the flavor, the call to all Christians is to believe in Jesus, not Genesis; and, more generally, to have faith in, not to seek proof of, God.
As others have said, let’s call the ID HOAX what it is and teach the controversy, indeed: Teach the controversy that Christianity is not defined by the Disco Ducks, Buffalo Bills, and Pitiful Pats of the world. Of course, we need to teach these things in our churches, homes, and non-governmental settings, but that’s OK. That’s the way our country was Intelligently Designed.
Those people who truly do have faith need to speak out as much, if not more than, the scientists and educators.
IMHO

Comment #72450

Posted by keiths on January 16, 2006 12:57 PM (e)

For those in the Boston area, I just ran across this announcement of a special screening of an evo/ID documentary at the Harvard Museum of Natural History:

Special Advance Screening of “Flock of Dodos: the Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus.” February 6, 7:00 p.m. Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford Street.
Filmmaker and former biologist Dr. Randy Olson’s new film probes the great communications struggle around evolution vs. intelligent design being waged in today’s mass media. Olson’s humorous, enlightening and sometimes sobering journey includes in-depth interviews with proponents of intelligent design, school board members, and lawyers, and footage from an evening with evolutionists who gather for a game of poker and evolution debate. (Screening to be followed by a question-and-answer with the filmmaker and panel discussion with Harvard biologist James J. McCarthy and New York Times Science writer Cornelia Dean.) Price: $8 regular admission; $6 for HMNH members and Harvard ID holders. Tickets available at the Harvard Box Office in Harvard Square, or by calling 617-496-2222.

Comment #72524

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 16, 2006 6:57 PM (e)

I wish there would be a real theological debate with IDiots. I don’t know how one can escape classing fundamentalists as idolaters and heretics. No matter the flavor, the call to all Christians is to believe in Jesus, not Genesis; and, more generally, to have faith in, not to seek proof of, God.

Indeed. Fundies don’t worship a god – they worship a Book About God and are too dumb to tell the difference. Idol-worshippers, really.

That is a matter for mainstream churches to take up with IDers. Alas, they have failed miserably to do so, and have instead allowed the fundies to wrap themselves piously in the cloak of “True Christianity©™”. Most Christians, worldwide, think the fundies are completely nuts, and most fundies, worldwide, have no gripe at all with any of modern science, including evolution. But you’d never know that from the “public debate”.

It’s always been a weakness in the anti-creationist movement, one that hurts us and helps the fundies.

Comment #73095

Posted by Randy on January 17, 2006 10:46 PM (e)

Rev Dr Lenny Flank wrote:

Most Christians, worldwide, think the fundies are completely nuts

Part of it, I suppose, is that the mainstream churches tend to be somewhat democratically/bureaucratically run. The Presbyterian General Assembly now only meets every two years and I think they’re still busy kicking around the gay thing. On a happy note, however, one of the pastors of my local church actively sought me out to tell me that a book is soon to be released called Misquoting Jesus. I appreciated his effort and I’m looking forward to the book (even if his ulterior motive is to get me to start coming to church again).

Comment #73417

Posted by Gordon Mitchell on January 19, 2006 1:00 AM (e)

As an argumentation scholar new to the ID controversy, I am thoroughly enjoying this thread. The commenters are making very interesting claims about the nature of debate as an interactive communicative process, and backing their claims with heavy (if not always transparent) normative content.

Please allow me to stir the pot with two questions:

1) What is/should be the purpose of engaging in argumentation about the ID controversy?

2) Is dogmatism so entrenched in this case that achievement of this purpose is impossible?

Comment #73479

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on January 19, 2006 8:14 AM (e)

1) What is/should be the purpose of engaging in argumentation about the ID controversy?

Depends on who you ask, I suppose. For me, what I am fighting against is summarized here:

http://www.geocities.com/lflank/fundies.htm

My aim is to prevent the ayatollah-wanna-be’s from establishing a theocratic US. And since ID is the “wedge issue” which they themselves has chosen as the focus point of that theocratic campaign, it is where I choose to oppose them. If they choose some other “wedge issue” to move to, then I will move along with them.

Other people have other aims and purposes. Some are more interested simply in protecting the integrity of science by preventing the fundie kooks from distorting science. Some are more interested in maintaining the constitutional wall of separation between church and state. And some have the aim (stated or unstated) of rooting out religious fundamentalism, or even rooting out all religion in general.

All of the anti-IDers here, though, whatever their individual outlooks, share these views: (1) ID is not science and doesn’t belong in a science classroom, and (2) the constitution’s separation of church and state must be upheld, and ID violates that separation of church and state.

Those who accept those two views are on our side. Those who don’t, aren’t. Anything else is just a tangential side issue.

2) Is dogmatism so entrenched in this case that achievement of this purpose is impossible?

My purpose has, so far, been achieved. The fundies have not (yet) managed to impose their theocracy onto the rest of us.

The “dogmatism” that appears is, largely, on the fundie side. On the anti-ID side, the “dogmatism” appears largely in the form of the dogmatic atheists who not only hold no religious beliefs of their own, but can’t stand it if someone else does either (even people on their own side). Those dogmatists, while very loud, are only a tiny minority of anti-IDers and, in my view, do it more harm than good.

As for the IDer’s “dogmatism”, it will never go away. Those who have the aim of eliminating ID/creationism forever, are bound to be disappointed.

Comment #73487

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 19, 2006 9:35 AM (e)

Posted by Gordon Mitchell on January 19, 2006 01:00 AM (e)

As an argumentation scholar new to the ID controversy, I am thoroughly enjoying this thread. The commenters are making very interesting claims about the nature of debate as an interactive communicative process, and backing their claims with heavy (if not always transparent) normative content.

If you do some research you are in for a very interesting time. I recommend you check out the talk origins site (there is a link on PT main page). Also go and look at some of the ID sites.

See which side argues with facts and research. Check out who cries about censorship yet discourages open discussion.

I am not even from the USA but find it all fascinating. Especially the people who are willing to lie to forward their cause.

A particularly amusing thing is to track the pro ID people on this site. It is quite funny to watch their arguments shot down and buried under scientific data. Even funnier if you have checked out Talk Origins and see people making claims (as if they are new) that have been dealt with years ago.

Comment #73492

Posted by Stephen Elliott on January 19, 2006 9:42 AM (e)

Gordon,
Have a read of this.

http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

ID sure is scientific.

Comment #73924

Posted by Craig Smith on January 20, 2006 3:37 AM (e)

Hello,

While much that is written here is instructive, may I ask that the scientific community decide to trust the science and not worry so much about the Discovery Institute?

I know how worried many are about the possible course of the near future, but can it really be so bad? I mean, while it took rather a long time, Copernicus and Galileo won eventually, didn’t they? And Darwin though he wrote in a rather more religious time than our own, did so, and today is far more influential than is the Discovery Institute. Is today so different from what has always been that there is so much to worry about? Wouldn’t time spent on the controversy be better spent pursuing the facts and the truth through research?

I speak as a former creationist in the midst of a creationist crowd. For a time, when I was new to all this stuff, I thought that I had to counter Darwinism. I never did it publically, but I refused to beleive it. It was as I was taught. But over time I realized that there not only was nothing to fear from evolutionary research, it was/is a fascinating and illuminating theory (in the scientific sense of the word, not the DI sense) because it 1. makes sense, and 2. is true.

Now and then I get the chance to discuss this with friends, and while some retreat behind the bromides, some do listen. I especially enjoy the chance to talk to the high-school kids. They seem to hear more than their parents do.

Isn’t that where the debate really belongs? I applaud Jack Krebs’ attempt to debate Michael Behe, that certainly needs to be done. When it can. But in the main the facts will speak for themselves, and eventually the furor will subside and science will be taught as it should be. “The truth will out” is an old saying that I think applies.

Should we worry about minds that will be negatively affected in the meantime? I don’t think so. First, science illiteracy is so high among the general populace that the debate will not affect most of them, anyway. Second, those who are truly interested in science will be scientists, and it is those people I think who should be targeted for education, not the general public. While the public shows strong good common sense most of the time, science is something else. Most are just afraid enough of its complexity that they will not study it. How many people are afraid to look under the hood of their car? They just want the thing to run. If science just makes things run, most people will be happy enough that, if they disagree with evolution at all, it won’t matter. They’ll be too busy working and keeping the kids safe.

Most people don’t think about evolution enough to do anything about it. There’s too much for them to think about, and besides, it won’t be on the test. Football, we’ll think about. Tetrapoda, no.

The debate makes for fine high dudgeon, I suppose, but that is dangerous to both sides of the debate. I would hate for the scientific side to get so used to emotional reactions that they believe them to be the correct answers to the ID objections. Even Mr. Brazeur (may his name be blessed), for all his research and knowledge, can’t help taking a gratuitous slap at the Discovery Institute in public unnecessarily. I think it would do the public more good if science concentrated on the science instead of on the naysayers.

Mind you, this is in the manner of a plea, not a criticism. While I am not engaged in it, I admire and respect and love science and the truths it uncovers and presents to our greater understanding. That is its real strength, and that is what will triumph over all untruth, however fanatically held at the moment.

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the Discovery Institute will be no more, and science will still be speaking truth. A bit of the other stuff, too, now and then, but that will be as it always was, overcome by the facts.

Comment #74638

Posted by fnxtr on January 22, 2006 5:08 AM (e)

I just read the NCSE “debate”.
Demski and Behe make about as much sense as Mary Baker Eddy.

Hey, at least Mary Baker Eddy made testable, falsifiable predictions

… maybe, but most of “Key to the Scriptures” is the same kind of tautological gibberish.

Comment #75644

Posted by AD on January 25, 2006 10:23 AM (e)

To Gordon Mitchell’s points…

I think most people here are arguing to the general audience who are, as of yet, uninformed and incapable of making a sound decision based on reason. I hold absolutely no belief that I’m going to convince most hardcore anti-evolution believers of anything. The reason to continue a “debate” is to ensure that these people do not convince others with their highly bogus arguments.

This is also the same reason that the debates should be very selectively chosen, and the format carefully regulated. You don’t want to give ammo to them, and in a way, the scientific community should be engaging in a sort of brutal rhetorical guerilla war - popping up only when it will have the maximum impact and delivering crippling blows to key links of the ID theory, then vanishing again to let them rant as a result.

Science has, on its side, reason, fact, and sound practice. The “debate” is a farce, but because most people don’t have the information to decide, it is important to work to disseminate that.

Comment #75855

Posted by Eva Young on January 26, 2006 12:01 AM (e)

Exactly. When I debated Michele Bachmann - a Minnesota nutcase legislator - on KKMS - a christian radio station - moderated by Joyce Harley, I met Joyce’s husband Bill - who is a big christian right person - but thinks creationism is nonsense. I believe there’s a more division than first meets the eye - and that debate would divide the audience - rather than rally the audience against godless atheism.

They want to frame the debate to being atheistic evolution vs faith - and when you wanted to reframe the debate, they had to bravely run away…..

Comment #75856

Posted by Lambchop on January 26, 2006 12:12 AM (e)

In reply to Craig Smith’s thoughtful comment.

To begin, I agree with you completely, except in one specific context that is, however, of vital importance. So I do not intend to argue against your observations, they are all more or less valid and I too decry the waste of resources, intelligence and thought that is represented in the selfless efforts of so many people to expose the fraud of ‘discrediting science’ to the unknowable majority of people who only read these tracts and never actively participate. Myself among them for the most part.

The exception is this: science is arguably the most powerful skill we humans have yet invented, mainly because it is so remorselessly intent on winkling out continually improved ‘truth’. But secondarily, the refinement of that ‘truth’ leads to other kinds of power, the enormity of which so far exceeds the effective means at civilizations’ disposal even 100 years ago that the possibility of its misuse by wrongheaded, delusional, ideologues with a personal agenda is a horror that is hard to contemplate.

Further, make no mistake, the fundamentalists have committed themselves to an argument that is an attack on ALL science, not just biology or evolution. To disprove the ancient earth they must confabulate spurious refutations of quantum mechanics. To discredit the fossil record they must disprove sedimentology, paleontology, structural geology, and tectonophysics. To impugn the veracity of cosmology they must confound the knowledge of astronomy, astrophysics, planetary geology, and mechanics. They have no reluctance to assert the general theory of relativity is a lie. They would willingly allow the sale of unpasteurized milk because their ideology dictates that microorganisms do not cause disease. The fundamentalists are at war with ALL science, not just biology.

One could make the case that should the control of nuclear weapons fall into the hands of ‘fundamentalists’ of whatever ilk, when pressed, they would use them wholesale. One could make the case that when faced with a global pandemic such as some (inevitable?) variant on HIV that is less conveniently discretionary in its infectious behavior, ‘fundamentalists’ having re writ science to suit their ideology, would be dumbstruck and incapable of responding in time to make any difference. One could make the case that without a truly scientific approach to achieving some self control in the growth of human population; resource, agricultural, social and behavioral crises of (dare I say it?) biblical proportions will occur. I won’t go on, but I could.

It is plain that the fundamentalists are making their efforts at the weakest points, they aim to inculcate their doctrines in school children and politicians. They avowedly hope to convert the US into a theocracy. No doubt, perhaps subtly, their motives include to some extent the phenomenal capacity of the US to affect the global picture. They covet such power. If they are allowed to succeed, then those of us who could have prevented them, may well be remembered, if indeed there is any memory at all, as having committed the most egregious crime against humanity in all history.

The might, wisdom (hopefully) and creativity of free society cannot be allowed, through ignorance, indolence and indoctrination, to fall into the hands of the rabidly irrational and self-serving few who would exploit any capability to further their aims, ruthlessly.

They (fundamentalists) must be opposed. And they must be defeated. If they are not, and somehow the fabric of science is unwoven, the profound harmony between humanity and nature that is ‘possible’ through science is lost, then the apocalyptic visions of ‘end times’ will seem like a day at Disney world, with the ironic twist, that the believers will be shown no more quarter than the billions of weary and care wore individuals who grub each day for mere sustenance laboring under the beliefs of their so called leaders.

I would only add, for the benefit of my brethren outside the US, that I do not for a moment discount that the world is well endowed with many egalitarian and fairly just societies and that the US is not necessarily the lynch pin holding everything together. Yet we must take into consideration, that the country has the capability of seriously disrupting the function of the whole planet, should it get into a hissy fit over some hypothetical challenge to its hegemony, especially if that hegemony is vested in the minds of fundamentalist ideologues. Which at present, at least to some extent, it is.

We must fight them, to do otherwise - to only concentrate on our chosen disciplines and try to further science alone, in the midst of this phenomenal campaign of disinformation, lies and duplicity, would be a rationalization tantamount to that made by the developers of VX gas.

Yes, in an ideal world, it would be fine to turn aside and ignore the turmoil, for the awesome capacity of science to converge on what is knowable would indeed always prevail. But the world is not ideal, and the sophistication and astounding progress of science has left the vast majority of people utterly in the dust. It is up to those who have some sense of ‘what we know’ to argue it, if necessary, with passion, for great things can hinge on small decisions.

My sincere gratitude to those you argue in favor of reason.

Comment #75858

Posted by Lambchop on January 26, 2006 12:25 AM (e)

That should be

those ‘of’ you ‘who’ agrue
in the last line.

Comment #105889

Posted by Mike Flacklestein on June 15, 2006 4:34 PM (e)

I live at 87510 Commonwealth in Seattle. Been up here before?